AMP shutters wealth management unit amid executive shake-up

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AMP says it will shutter its Australian wealth management business by the end of the year as part of a broader restructure that will lead to a thinning out of the company’s executive ranks.

The head of the Australian wealth management unit, Scott Hartley, will exit as the business is dissolved. Meanwhile, AMP chief financial officer Peter Fredricson, who just took on the role in January, will retire from corporate life and leave the company.

AMP will combine two executive roles and relinquish as part of a restructure.Credit: Scott Barbour

Fredricson’s spot will be filled by Blair Vernon, AMP’s group executive of transformation and New Zealand, on July 3, with his existing role to be rolled into the CFO position.

“With the recent transactions largely complete, a flatter organisational structure is appropriate,” AMP said on Monday. “Scott Hartley will work with the team to transition to a new operating model over the next six months, before departing AMP.”

AMP chief executive Alexis George said the changes were a reflection of the company becoming a simpler business after the sale of its capital businesses.

AMP boss Alexis George says retirement income products are a key focus for the company.Credit: Louie Douvis

“With Peter deciding to retire, the simplification of the structure through combining the CFO and transformation roles made sense,” George said.

Vernon joined AMP in 2009 and worked across various roles in operations, sales and distribution before being appointed chief executive of AMP’s New Zealand wealth management in 2019. From May last year, he was appointed to lead the firm’s transformation activities and from August 2020 to January 2021, Blair was acting chief executive of AMP Australia.

Following a transition period in June, Vernon will be responsible for leading the organisation’s financial control, statutory and regulatory reporting, performing reporting, tax, investor relations, treasury, M&A, strategic sourcing and workplace experience and transformation.

He will also lead the company’s balance sheet and cost base reviews announced in March.

AMP has been in rocky territory for some time, facing pressure from investors as it looks to rebuild confidence.

In March, AMP investors revolted over bonuses paid to top executives, as chair Debra Hazelton said the wealth manager was making progress on rebuilding after the 2018 Hayne royal commission almost threatened its existence. Some shareholders and experts raised concerns about how the company set its executive bonuses and the company’s share price weakness, as the company tried to turn itself around following findings about financial misconduct five years ago.

AMP’s share price has fallen 72 per cent over the past five years, even as it has sold businesses in life insurance and asset management and most recently, dissolved its Australian wealth management arm.

However, shares in AMP lifted 1.1 per cent on the restructuring announcement on Monday, to $1.08 a share.

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